S. Korea: Workers not happier from 44 hour to 40 hour work week

Aug. 29, 2013 at 12:42 AM
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SEOUL, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- A reduction in work hours does not necessarily mean happier employees, because employers often don't reduce the amount of work, a South Korean researcher says.

Robert Rudolf of Korea University in Seoul looked at the impact of South Korea's recently introduced Five-Day Working Policy. South Korea introduced its reformative working policy in 2004, in which Saturday became an official non-working day. It also reduced the official working week from 44 to 40 hours.

The policy was instigated to enhance living standards, boost the country's weak leisure industry and to reduce the negative effects of excessively long working hours, including low productivity and high rates of industrial injury.

Rudolf's analysis is based on the detailed and nationally representative longitudinal survey of urban Korean households, the Korean Labor and Income Panel Study, conducted from 1998-2008.

Rudolf found working wives and mothers were generally more pleased with the reformative measures than their male counterparts because women face higher work-family role conflicts and suffer more from long overtime hours.

The study, published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, found even though full-time workers, and women in particular, were generally thankful that their work week was cut by 4 hours on average, it had no significant impact on their overall job and life satisfaction. This is because much of the positive spin-offs gained from fewer working hours were often offset by rising work intensity demands set by employers, but some firms tended to give less holiday time, Rudolf said.

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